Change: Will You Be James Taylor or Bob Dylan?


Change: Will You Be James Taylor or Bob Dylan?

                                              Pruitt Allen @ flickr.com

Last night was all about the James Taylor concert. Truth be told, AARP missed a great opportunity to sign up some new members. Case in point: When I told my 24-year old son where I was going, his response? Dead silence. Here’s the rest of the conversation:
Me:   “Do you know who James Taylor is?”
Him: “I’m guessing someone famous.”
Me:   “What about ‘You’ve Got a Friend’?”
Him:  “You mean ‘You’ve Got a Friend in  Me”? (from Toy Story!)
Me:   “God help me, I have failed as a parent.”
Him:  “I’m sure he’s good.”
Geesh, whippersnappers.
James Taylor was not only good, he was great. Listening to him was like being enveloped in a warm blanket of nostalgia. I think there might have been two songs that I didn't know or couldn't sing along with. I had a smile on my face the whole night.
The concert has me thinking about the church and our desire to (naturally) want to be wrapped in what is comfortable. If James had done a concert and dared to only sing two songs that I recognized, I would not have been a happy camper. I paid to hear him sing his hits, right?


Xavier Badosa @ flickr.com

Though I was thoroughly entranced by my evening, today I have a greater appreciation for Bob Dylan. In the early 60s, Dylan was a well-known and highly regarded folk singer. With hits like “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “The Times They Are a Changin’,” Dylan was on everyone’s radar as a folk voice to be reckoned with.
But at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival he ditched his acoustic guitar for an electric one. Rather than embrace Dylan’s reinvention of himself, the crowd – his ardent “fans” – famously booed him. “The Night Bob Dylan Went Electric” says, “In some stories Pete Seeger, the gentle giant of the folk scene, tried to cut the sound cables with an axe. Some people were dancing, some were crying, many were dismayed and angry, many were cheering, many were overwhelmed by the ferocious shock of the music or astounded by the negative reactions.” He only sang three songs before leaving the stage.

Back to the church. Maybe there’s room for both kinds of congregations: those that keep us feeling warm and cozy and those that push the envelope and keep us moving forward. Perhaps, there can be a mix of both. Here’s the rub, Jesus never did accept “warm and cozy.” He was all about pushing the status quo, making change, and shaking things up. But, on the other hand, I do like to think that while fighting the Power, Jesus and his disciples sang a few good old hymns from their youth to keep their spirits up.
Thankfully, you don’t have to choose between James Taylor or Bob Dylan…but you do need to be open to the Spirit’s guidance and to following the example of Jesus. My guess is that Jesus would have been perfectly comfortable with “The Times They are a Changin’” and “You’ve Got a Friend.” But really, most likely He'd be listening to Kendrick Lamar and Beyonce.
May you find that perfect music to challenge and comfort you as you move into the future.

P.S. If you're going to be at the OR-ID UM Annual Conference in Boise next week, stop by my Ministry Marketplace table and say "hi"!

Cesie Delve Scheuermann (pronounced “CC Delv Sherman,” yes, really) is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. Over the past fifteen years, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she helped raise over three million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. She’s going to buy her son a vinyl record of “James Taylor’s Greatest Hits.” That’ll show him. She was the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference Lay Leader from 2008-2012. Her position with the Conference is funded through a generous grant from the Collins Foundation. She is available to consult with churches. You can reach her at inspiringgenerosity@gmail.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/inspiringgenerosity.

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Cesie Delve Scheuermann
Cesie Delve Scheuermann is consultant in grant writing and stewardship/development working with the Conference. From 2008-12 she was the Conference Lay Leader for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference.